Differentiating Instruction: Process

Differentiating Instruction: Process

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, you will learn about differentiating the learning process for diverse learners.

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Welcome. I'm Tricia Fyfe, and in today's video lesson, we'll be covering the topic of differentiating instruction, with a focus on the process. As we learn about this topic, we will work toward several learning objectives, and together we'll answer the following questions in this video lesson. How can the learning process be differentiated in your classroom, and what might this look like?

Let's start by talking about differentiated instruction. This important framework revolves around the idea that changes must be made in several areas to improve education for each and every student. These changes include changes to the content, or what students are learning; changes to the process of learning, or how the students are learning that content; changes to the products that our students are producing to show their learning; and changes to the learning environment itself.

Student profiles can be a fantastic tool for teachers to really get to know their students. We use these profiles to consider specific needs when we differentiate. We may be thinking about any of the changes that we just discussed as far as differentiating content, process products, or the learning environment. A student's learning profile can be made up of many different things, including but not limited to, interests of the students, their learning style, their dominant multiple intelligences, their gender, culture, and any other factors that seem important for your class.

In this lesson, we'll focus on differentiation of processes and we'll start by looking at what it looks like to differentiate the learning process. First, we need to ask, how do students learn and acquire facts, skills, and concepts? In doing so, we must acknowledge that students have different levels of understanding and they all have different ways of learning.

We can't expect that all of our students will learn multiplication by memorizing facts one group at a time, for example. Some students may need visual aids. Some may need more written practice, and some may use hands-on manipulatives more often. We cannot teach all students the same way. We need to then act as teachers. We need to differentiate processes by using methods such as interest centers.

This is where teachers create activity or learning centers, or otherwise known as stations for students to choose or rotate through. There's hands-on activities for students to engage in. And usually the students are working in groups so there's plenty of opportunities for collaboration and communication as they learn together. Another method is the tiered lesson or assignment. And this is a type of activity that uses scaffolding techniques for students to look at the same concept with the same standards, goals, or objectives, but at different levels, or maybe use in different approaches according to each student's readiness.

Generally, students are grouped in flexible groupings here as well. Anchor activities are a great tool for teachers to use so that students are engaged at all times. When they're not working on another activity for this unit or lesson, they can go back to this anchor activity. Teachers might have students start something at the beginning of class and then go back to it as they finish other activities.

Often times, these activities are personalized and developed to meet the interests and performance levels of each and every student. The last idea that we'll talk about here is flexible groupings. This is where teachers are intentional about how they group students. It might be based on levels of ability or readiness, maybe different interests, or possibly based on information that the teacher has gotten from the learning profiles of each student.

By giving students a voice and choice in the process that they use for their learning and mastering content, we allow them to focus on learning. For example, many times I've given students the option of using work time in the class to complete the assignment either independently or within a small group. It's their choice. They choose whatever will work best for them with that assignment or based on their learning style.

We can also allow for opportunities for self-assessment. For example, in a homework assignment, students might be required to complete the first section of the assignment. And then they're giving guiding questions to determine if they should complete the practice section for more practice, or maybe the challenge section if they already have a good basis and a good understanding.

When differentiating learning processes, it's important to consider the following questions as teachers. How might different students be grouped into the most effective way? What choices can I provide to my students for classroom work and homework? What process differentiation strategies or techniques might best lend themselves to the particular content that I'm teaching? And what digital tools might help me differentiate the learning process for my students?

Again, these are important questions for you. So I encourage you to take a screenshot or write these questions down. Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the following questions. How can the learning process be differentiated in your classroom, and what might this look like?

Today we looked at differentiating learning processes. And we looked at the importance of giving students voice and choice in how they get things done, as well as reflection and self-assessment opportunities.

We also looked at the important questions to consider when differentiating learning processes in the classroom setting. Now that you're more familiar with these concepts, let's reflect. What are the benefits to differentiating the learning process in your classroom? Can you think of challenges in differentiating processes in a diverse classroom?

Thanks for joining me today in discussing the lesson Differentiating Instruction, with a focus on processes. I hope you found value in this video lesson and you're able to use these ideas on differentiating the learning process with your students in your own classrooms. Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned. The additional Resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description so you can easily target the resources that you want.

Notes on “Differentiating Instruction: Process”


(00:00- 00:22) Introduction

(00:23- 00:53) What is Differentiation of Instruction?

(00:54- 01:31) Student Profiles and Differentiation  

(01:32- 03:45) How Can We Differentiate Learning Processes?

(03:46- 04:30) Differentiation Processes  

(04:31- 05:05) Differentiating Process: Questions to Ask

(05:06- 05:33) Recap

(05:34- 06:20) Reflection 

Additional Resources

Thinking about DI: Content, Process, and Product

This resource is an excellent and practical guide to differentiating content, process, and product. Additionally, the site provides resources for teachers on differentiating instruction for application in the classroom.

The IRIS Center: Jigsaw Activities

This website provides lessons with steps for teachers to differentiate process in instruction. This is a great how-to for teachers beginning to differentiate process in their classroom.